Joe Simpson is an angry man. As a mountaineer, he was staggered to hear that in two separate incidents, groups of climbers near Mount Everest's summit had walked past dying men without stopping.
Death is always close on the mountains where nature is at its most extreme. Simpson himself was left for dead in 1985 while climbing in Peru, In his latest book Dark Shadows Falling, he writes with infectious enthusiasm for mountaineer-mg and questions the changing morals of mountaineers.
’I love climbing, and I don’t like some
Joe Simpson: ‘You don't walk past dying people and not do anything’
of the things that are happening,’ he says. ’There are two fundamental points to the book, the main one is nothing to do with climbing, it is to do with humanity: you don’t walk past dying people and not do anything. It is not a matter of whether you can rescue them and save their lives. But don't you put a hand out to them? Don't you show some compassion?’
The other point of the book is the change of mountaineering from challenge to tourism: a climb up the highest peaks can be bought without having any experience. Even Everest’s summit can become crowded. Commercial imperatives put other mountaineers at risk, most notably the Indian Sherpas who carry equipment for most Himalayan mountaineering expeditions.
The fact that it was Sherpas who died, and Westerners and Japanese who walked passed them, smacks of racism. As Simpson says: ’The passing of another human being is about the most powerful thing that you are going to experience short of your own death. You must have done something quite odd to override the instinctive desire to help or do something.’ (Thom Dibdin)
I Joe Simpson With Andrew Greig (Book Festival) Post Office Theatre, 220 3990, Thu 27, 6.30pm, [6 (£3.50). Dark Shadows Falling is published by Jonathan Cape at [75 99.
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Joe Simpson on Wednesday 20th August at 7pm when he will be signing copies of his new novel Dark Shadows Falling (published by Cape). Author of Touching The Void & This Game Of Ghosts, he is one of the world experts climbing. Refreshments will be provided on the night.
On Thursday 2|st August at 8pm Duncan McLean is celebrating his new book Lone Star Swing (published by Cape) with a Texan party. .including swing music and suitably Author of Buckets of Tongues & Bunker Man. he charts the territory of Texan swing music with a wonderfully
information or to reserve your free tickets please
ring Gillian Mackay or Simon
Dillons the Bookstore is at I74-I76 Argyle Street. Glasgow, (32 8AH.
on the ethics of
Absolutely Now! Lynne Franks
’I’m chanting as we speak sweetie. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho- renge-kyo.’
Sadly, Lynne Franks does not correspond to the Absolutely Fabulous character she is meant to have inspired, but she does proceed to silence me with a white river rapid of words. After a lifetime in the hard-sell, amphetamine-fuelled world of PR, the guru of the 705 and 80s switched the fast lane for the contemplative lane and has written a book all about it.
In Lynne Franks: Absolute/y Now! A Futurist’s Journey To Her Inner Truth, the 49-year~old professional business futurist talks a good global inner- journey: ’I have an intuitive gift for predicting lifestyles.’ Yet, if this transatlantic LA conversation is anything to go by, the hyperactive mouth and brain communication channel ismowhere near relaxation Buddhist mode.
In June I992 Franks did a turnaround. She sold the business, left her job, marriage and the country. The aim, says her biography, was to ’travel the world to study the interaction
between multi-nationals, nation states and grassroots organisations.’ It continues: ’Her current passion is developing a global communications network aimed primarily at training and empowering women.’ Got that?
Not much time for that inner quest navel-gazing then? ’No,’ answers Franks. ’I only ever get a Cynical reaction from print-media journalists!’ — Oh!
’In England the media think that if you are into therapy you must be mad. If you talk about your spiritual journey you’re weird and if you’re a woman who expresses her emotions then you’re hysterical. It’s funny that no-one here in LA or the west coast of America ever feels the need to scoff, because they are into the same urban shaman or new age phi|050phies.’
So no navel gazing then? ’The whole point is to go forward,’ perseveres Franks. ’It's not about going off to contemplate your navel on top of a mountain but to put values back into our daily lives. There is a need, especially in the west where our lives are so busy, busy all the time, to keep some quiet time for ourselves to meditate or go walking or hiking even!
May the force of Franks be With you! (Ann Donald)
I Absolute/y Now by Lynne Franks is published by Century at f 76. 99. Absolute/y Now! (Book Festival) Lynne Franks, Fri 75, Post Office Theatre, 220 3990, 5pm, £4 (£3).
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